It should be the perfect place to ride. Instead of fighting our way through traffic or dodging drivers who can’t seem to grasp the concept of a bike lane, an off-road, or Class 1, bike path should offer the perfect opportunity to just relax and enjoy a good ride.
But too often, it doesn’t work out that way.
While many of these paths meander through common public spaces such as parks, lake shores and beaches, others are hidden from view. Which means that any problems along the path will be hidden, as well, from massive cracks and potholes in the pavement, to ugly graffiti and criminal activity. Eventually, many cyclists decide they’re better off taking their chances on the streets — abandoning the alternate routes they fought so hard to get, and leading to further deterioration. Or forcing organized efforts — or somewhat less organized efforts — to reclaim them.
But it shouldn’t be up to us to reclaim the bike paths, any more that it’s up to drivers to reclaim the 405 freeway or Ventura Boulevard.
So let’s demand regular safety and maintenance patrols of all off-road bike paths, both by the local police and the appropriate maintenance agency, whether city, county or state — and require that at least some off those patrols be done by bike. Because as we all know, things look and feel completely different behind the handlebars than they do from behind the wheel.